HBO Max to launch in 60 countries by end of 2021, preps baking & Fremantle formats

HBO Max has outlined more details about its global roll-out and upcoming AVOD service while also revealing a new format commission for Fremantle, with the AT&T-owned streamer now predicting it will secure up to 150 million subscribers worldwide by 2025.

The streamer, which launched into the hugely competitive US SVOD landscape last year, said it would launch in 60 countries outside of the US this year including 21 countries in Europe, where the streamer will arrive during the second half of 2021. Details of the territories are yet to be confirmed.

HBO Max, which costs $15 a month in the US for non-HBO customers, said that it was also on track to launch in 39 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean by June and added that it expects to have secured around 70 million subscribers worldwide by the end of 2021.

Jason Kilar

Target pushing

The global expansion is expected to generate between 120 million and 150 million subscribers for the streamer and sibling pay network HBO globally by the end of 2025, AT&T added, up from an estimated 75-90 million target set in 2019.

The streamer’s current reach in the US is unclear, although AT&T said that during the fourth quarter of 2020 just over 17 million HBO subscribers had activated their HBO Max membership.

That number is expected to grow rapidly over the coming years, with AT&T predicting that HBO’s revenues would rise from $6.8bn in 2020 to $15bn over the next five years. The raised projections follow a flurry of similar announcements from other streamers, with Disney+ announcing last week it had surpassed 100 million paid subscribers since launch.

The figures do not include countries where HBO has licensing deals, such as the UK and Australia. WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, who embarked on a cost-cutting plan after starting in the role last year, also reiterated that the launch in Europe would see customers receiving a “near doubling” of programming.

He added that “because of our accelerated momentum”, he expected “to increase our investment over the next several years.”


Commissions & gameshows

The revised targets come after a turbulent launch for the streamer, which entered a US streaming landscape where incumbents such as Netflix were jostling with newer entrants including Peacock, Apple TV+ and Disney+.

HBO Max’s planned output was also hit hard by pandemic-induced production hiatuses, with WarnerMedia moving heavily into international acquisitions such as BBC drama The Trial Of Christine Keeler, Spanish-language series La Jauria, Adult Material, Possessions and kids programming from Blue Ant International.

HBO Max has also embraced unscripted and on Friday the streamer unveiled a first season order for Fremantle’s comedy format Tattletales, which brings together celebrity couples to reveal insights about their relationships through challenges and games.

It’s being produced by Ayesha Curry’s Sweet July Productions and her husband Stephen’s Unanimous Media, and will join fellow unscripted formats such as cookery competition show Baketopia, which has been handed a launch date of 25 March. The format is from US-based B17 Entertainment, which is also behind HBO Max’s competition series Craftopia.

Setting an AVOD date

The streamer is also looking to compete in the fast-growing AVOD space in the US and join rivals such as Peacock, which launched with a lower cost, ad-supported tier.

WarnerMedia said last year such an offering was in the works and the company has now confirmed its AVOD tier will be rolled out in June, although prices and content availability have not yet been revealed.

The details were revealed ahead of AT&T’s annual report, with CEO John Stankey adding that the streamer’s overall subs numbers were two years ahead of forecast.

“For perspective, we added more HBO Max and HBO US subscribers in 2020 than we did in the 10 years before that combined,” he said.


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